“Boy! What a foolish thing have you done!?”
It was Solon who suddenly stormed into Souma’s office in the feudal lord’s mansion, where Souma had just begun to work on governmental duties, while yelling.
Most recently it was rare to see Solon with a red face as he was apparently refraining from drinking alcohol. But right now, Solon’s face was much redder than before. However, that wasn’t owed to him being drunk on alcohol, but him being angry.
Souma, who had been attending to governmental affairs, and Shion, who was practicing writing in a corner of the room, stared at Solon in wonder.
“Just what are you talking about?”
Souma didn’t remember having seen Solon so upset ever before.
Yet Solon glared angrily and replied, “It’s about yesterday’s brawling uproar!”
It was an incident that took place yesterday. With Zurgu and Dvalin, who had become drinking buddies, as a start, a part of the zoan and dwarves formed friendships with alcohol as intermediary. Yesterday the dwarves and zoan sallied out into the city, and drank alcohol together, but because of a little difference in opinions, it developed into a brawl, and then extended into a fighting uproar that dragged the city’s residents into it. Learning of that, Souma passed his judgment at once. First he gathered and cautioned those who had joined the fighting, and then he ordered everyone to apologize and reimburse the bar which got ransacked.
“Is there any problem with that?”
According to the reports afterwards, the bar’s owner accepted the apology and reimbursement.
Solon flew into rage at Souma, who cocked his head in puzzlement, wondering what else might be wrong, “You moron!!”
Having those harsh words hurled at him from right in front, Souma was bewildered.
“The zoan and dwarves, who participated in the brawl, belong to your army, boy! In that case you must punish them according to military regulations!”
Solon violently hit the thick bundle of papers in his hands while yelling. If Souma had followed the regulations written in there, injuring citizens would certainly qualify as serious crime for the perpetrators. They were expected to be dragged to the city’s gallows and lashed there as punishment.
“However, it was just a riot triggered by being drunk at a drinking place. Wouldn’t that have been a bit too harsh?” Souma asked.
At that moment Souma was hit by Solon with the bundle of papers containing the military regulations, “You stupid lil’ boy! That’s no kindness! You’re just naive!”
“T-Then, I will punish them onc――”
His head was hit before he could even finish speaking.
“You will lose trust if you lightly change a punishment you passed once!” Saying this over his shoulder, Solon left the office, stomping away.
For a while Shyemul and Souma felt dumbstruck inside the room that had just been visited by a storm called Solon. Shyemul, who hadn’t been able to stop Souma being hit as she was too surprised by Solon’s excessively aggressive attitude, finally came to her senses, and snapped.
“Good grief, what an outrageous geezer!” Shyemul spit out while grinding her fangs.
In addition, there was also her irritation at being unable to prevent her own Navel Master being hit.
“It can’t be helped. What Mr. Solon said is true.”
Souma himself had also noticed his own bad habit. Still unable to escape the mindset of a boy from modern Japan, Souma was bad at judging others. Also, if it came to judgments that would require Souma’s attention, it was mostly felons resulting in a death penalty. Many of those people were frantically begging and yelling to spare their lives, or in reverse, hung their heads dejectedly after having resolved themselves that they wouldn’t live long anymore, once they were dragged in front of Souma.
If it were to only be heinous people deserving the death penalty, it would be still better, and among them were also some for whom the death penalty was unavoidable as long as one stuck closely to the laws, but there were also people who left room for sympathy. Whenever such people were in front of him, Souma ended up sparing their lives based on some kind of reason.
Souma knew that Solon hadn’t looked kindly at that since a while ago, and he also understood that he himself was soft-hearted. However, whenever it came to judging people now, the question how he dared to judge others while being no more than a senior high school brat himself welled up within him.
He had also thought about leaving it to someone else if he couldn’t do it himself. But, considering it cowardly to push difficult judgments he struggled with on another person, Souma couldn’t boldly go ahead with that either.
Shyemul made an effort to console Souma, who was distressed over this, with a cheerful tone, “Even if you brood over it while pulling a gloomy face, it won’t lead to a good result, Soma.”
Shyemul had also been well aware of Souma’s leniency being a flaw as a ruler. She knew because she had personally experienced how her father, the clan chief, deliberately treated his family strictly in his function as role model for his clan mates. Compared to him, she couldn’t help but call Souma soft.
However, at the same time she understood that this soft-heartedness was a part of Souma’s character. Exactly because of this trait, Souma saved her, the zoan, and all the other people of the different races that had fallen into slavery. That’s why she didn’t want Souma to simply toss away that part of him, nor accuse him of just being naive.
“Mmh, I know that, but…”
However, Souma’s expression didn’t brighten up despite her efforts to encourage him. Due to that, Shyemul thought it over for a short moment and then clapped her hands together.
“That’s it! Horse, a horse! Let’s go practice horse-riding as recreation! Come on, go go!”
Recently Souma had started to practice horse-riding. Believing that horse-riding would become important in the battles to come, he had bought a few dozen horses, including mares, from the Jeboan merchant Yoash.
Souma, who had the opportunity to review the harnesses when buying the horses, comprehended for the first time that that stirrups and horseshoes didn’t exist in this world. Especially the lack of stirrups was inconvenient when straddling a horse. Accordingly, he immediately requested Dvalin to make him one, but this stirrup, which Souma considered to be very natural to use, was actually something extraordinary.
In this world, where stirrups didn’t exist so far, a rider had to secure his body by making sure to tightly press both legs against the horse’s torso while mounting it. However, it was difficult to just keep the body stabilized on top of a horse moving violently. For this reason, one had to accumulate training in horse-riding from childhood to mount a horse in this world. The majority of cavalry in this era consisted of people such as nobles who could afford to own a horse as individuals.
But, the stirrup, which Souma considered to be very normal, overturned that concept. Even so, an unexpected pitfall awaited Souma at that point.
“Soma, make sure that you can ride a horse as well then!”
Hearing that it had become easy to ride a horse, it was Shyemul who rejoiced. So far Souma had used a carriage whenever he went on a long trip.
Of course, it was unnecessary to mention that Shyemul accompanied him on that. However, Shyemul was a woman of the zoan, the race referred to as supreme rulers of the plains. She had the desire to run through the plains on her own feet. And yet that wouldn’t work for her as Souma’s bodyguard. Because of that, she had firmly resisted the urge of wanting to run through the plains so far.
However, if Souma were to reach a point where he could ride a horse, they would be able to freely dash across the plains together. Running across the plains with just her beloved and respected Navel Master; that idea rose as very wonderful scenery in Shyemul’s mind.
“Come on, let’s practice! Let’s have you be able to ride a horse as fast as possible!”
Shyemul urged him on, being all smiles with joy, but Souma, who had never touched a horse even during his time in modern Japan, felt nervous about learning horse-riding. But with the words, “There’s no loss in being able to mount a horse,” by Marchronis who had been present at that time, Souma decided to practice horse-riding. And ever since then, Shyemul would always try to drag Souma one way or another to practice horse-riding.
“It feels great to run through the plains with all your strength! Little worries will be blown by just that.”
Souma smiled wryly at Shyemul who hurried him to go practice horse-riding again even at this time. It probably also had the goal to encourage him who was troubled, but to him it seemed as if Shyemul herself wanted to run through the plains. Shyemul had apparently accumulated quite a bit of stress by only practicing writing.
“You’re right. I guess a little change of pace won’t hurt.”
“Alright! Let’s go right away!”
Souma ended up laughing while having his arm pulled by Shyemul who was emitting happiness from her whole body.
On that day, Souma, who had practiced mounting on a horse outside the city for just one hour, returned to the city while accompanied by only Shyemul.
Souma, who wasn’t used to mounting a horse yet, got exhausted from this much. Seemingly having strained his body unreasonably, all his muscles were still screaming at him. Even so, results of his training apparently started to show. At first Souma had rather clung to the horse than mounting it, but most recently some properness in Souma horse-riding posture had started to become visible.
“You have reached a point where you’re starting to look pretty good up there.”
Even now he couldn’t help but feel pain from his grazed, inner thighs and his slapped bum, but seeing Shyemul getting so happy felt like being rewarded for those hardships, too.
The two headed through the city towards the feudal lord’s residence while exchanging smiles, but that’s when the incident occurred. It was at the time when Souma was passing next to a woman who tried to raise a water jug at the roadside by chance. The wet water jug slipped out of the woman’s hands, and fell to the ground. The jug broke apart with a loud crashing sound, and the water was scattered in all directions.
Originally horses had a cowardly nature. Any horse would get surprised by the breaking sound of a jug taking place close-by. Moreover, Souma, its rider, transmitted a hint of surprise towards that event, causing the horse’s surprise to change into fear. The horse that fell into panic suddenly started to run off with Souma on top immediately after it raised its front legs high into the air.
Souma, who wasn’t accustomed to riding a horse yet, had no choice but to frantically cling to the horse’s body so as to not be thrown off, let alone calming the horse.
“Soma!” Shyemul yelled, went down on all four, and chased after the horse.
Zoan were no match for horses when it came to speed over a long distance, but if it came to accelerating over a short distance, they exceeded horses by far. She caught up with the restive horse in no time, grasped the reins, and pinned down its head while simultaneously pulling the reins.
Having its head pinned down, the horse had no choice but to stop running, but even so it shook its head, trying to free itself from Shyemul’s hold. But, even though Shyemul was a woman, she was also a zoan who leaped at cows in the plains and brought them down as prey. That level of head shaking was no issue for Shyemul.
As if carrying out a last, futile struggle, the restive horse abruptly kicked up its hind legs. That kick unluckily kicked over a street stall standing at the side of the road. A woman, who seemed to be the wife of the farmer who was running that stall, screamed and fell to the ground.
“Calm! Calm down!”
As the horse was called out to while having its nape lightly hit as if to give it a peace of mind, it finally stopped rampaging. Souma straightened up atop the pacified horse at last, and sighed in relief. However, he immediately noticed the stall’s woman and turned pale.
“S-Sorry! Are you okay?” Souma swiftly dismounted the horse, and ran over to the collapsed woman.
Fortunately the woman got away with light scratches at her hands which had caught her fall at the moment she tumbled down out of surprise, and even the stall itself had just folded in, but didn’t appear to be broken. If you were to speak of damage, it would remain at the level of the vegetables, which seemed to be the merchandise that had been lined up in the stall, having fallen on the ground with several of them smashed.
Souma promptly apologized, and promised to pay the cost of the vegetables that got spoiled, and an additional sum as reparation. Having received not only an apology from Souma, the ruler of the city, but even the prospect of being paid reparations, the woman felt thankful instead, and repeatedly bowed her head.
The patrolling guards, who protected the city’s public order, belatedly arrived on scene and began to drive away the gathered onlookers, once they heard that there had been no significant damage and that the concerned party was Souma. The onlooker didn’t want to get dragged into the troubles caused by the feudal lord either, and scattered after quickly losing interest since it hadn’t developed into a serious disturbance this time.
But, there was a single person heading towards the center of the incident while running counter to the leaving onlookers. Once that person saw Souma still persistently apologizing to the injured woman, he pondered while stroking his long beard. Then he suddenly picked up a long wooden stick that had fallen down at the roadside, went behind Souma at a slow pace, tightly grasped that wooden stick with both hands, and abruptly brandished it.
Shyemul noticed him at once, “Soma!”
As all of it happened in an instant, even Shyemul couldn’t do much more than yelling. Souma blankly looked at Shyemul who yelled at him all of a sudden.
The wooden stick was swung down on the top of Souma’s shoulder with a smack.